I think most counselors lose the money game by not going into solo private practice. This is a tragedy. Which is why I'm giving a webinar where I'll give away all my secrets to starting a solo private practice.
But first, a story.
I've been reading "Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?" It's the biography of Reginald Lewis, America's first black billionaire.
It chronicles Lewis' journey from the poverty of inner-city Baltimore to the classrooms of Harvard Law, to the mean streets of ritzy New York, all while battling the racism of the 70s and 80s and his own ignorance about how big business works.
I relate a lot to Lewis. I also grew up in inner-city Baltimore, lucked my way into a grad program, and have been battling my own ignorance around business ever since. So I say this with nothing but love for Lewis, Lewis' story is a tragedy.
The book starts off with Lewis' funeral. He dies in 1993 at the age of 50. The author, Blaire Walker, didn't mean for Lewis' life to read as a tragedy, but as I read the book, every accomplishment is framed in the shadow of his impending death. At one point, Lewis graduates from Harvard Law, and Walker writes, "He had no way of knowing that, at the age of 25, his life was already half over."
As I'm reading about Lewis starting his law firm, buying his companies, and working 80-hour weeks, I don't feel a sense of triumph. And I should; here's a black man like me who's overcome so much to reach the heights of success.
Instead, I just keep thinking, "You worked another 80-hour week. You have ten years left. Was it worth it, Lewis?"
The truth hidden in plain sight is that we all trade our time for money. We go to work because someone somewhere wants some stuff. They need food, shelter, and medicine. We also do this because we like having nice things. Video games, cool jackets, cups that keep our hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.
So, because we have needs and wants, we use our time to make stuff people want and then trade that stuff for money. If a Yeti costs $25 and my hourly wage is $25, then I've traded an hour of my life for a Yeti.
Whether or not it's a good trade, we trade our time, our life, for money. Most of us don't have a way out of this trade.
Lewis is a master not only of spending his time to get more money (he works crazy hours) but also of using his money to get him more money. He found a way to trade his 80 hours of work for ever-increasing amounts of money.
And herein lies the problem. He could reverse the trade. He could spend his money to buy back his time. But he's stuck on the "more" train. He has to prove to himself and the world that he's more than just a poor black kid from Baltimore.
The same fire has burned within my chest.
I think the difference between Lewis and me is that he didn't have a Lewis. He didn't have someone who looked like him to learn from. I do. And I can see clearly that once you make a certain amount of money, once you make enough to cover living expenses, money is best served buying back your time. Because we all die.
Our lives are limited. So we should spend them wisely.
I don't mean, "money doesn't matter" or that we shouldn't trade our time for money.
Too many people spend their time now on things they won't care about later, and then as they age and have less time, as their parents get sick, as their kids are presented with opportunities, they suffer, because, now, instead of spending time on what matters most to them, they have to spend their time making money.
If you don't trade your time for money when you are young, you will wish you had when you are old. Money matters a lot.
Rather, what I mean is if we can really see the trade clearly, we suddenly realize the game that we are playing and how to win.
The goal of the game of money is not to buy power. It's not to fill our egos. It's not to buy a ton of cars or houses. It's not to try and pay down the trauma of being young and poor and black in the 50s.
The game is a trading game. We win once we have enough money to buy back our time. That's what wealth is—the ability to buy back your time.
This is why I want more counselors and therapists in solo private practice.
In solo private practice I have control over my time. I see 16 hours of clients per week, do no active marketing, and rarely fight with insurance companies.
I make enough to pay my bills.
I save money for the future.
I take off when I want to.
I spend my time parenting my kids, writing this blog, and reading sci-fi novels.
I do not have a million dollars. I don't even have escape velocity money, but I have the one thing more valuable than money: my time.
I know not every counselor has that sort of freedom. Honestly, I don't understand why. But this is why I want more people to go into solo private practice.
And with this kind of time-wealth, it's made me start thinking about how to spend the rest of my time. I think I want to give back to others. Recently, I've had several people reach out to me and ask for one-on-one coaching.
Unfortunately, I've said no. It's not worth my time.
I don't want to give up an hour of my life every week, especially if it's less than my hourly rate, to coach someone else.
I'd rather spend that time with my kids. But I also want people to have what I have: Time. It seems to me that the easiest way for most counselors and therapists to get back their time is to go into solo private practice.
So to address this, my business partner Paul Peterson and I will be giving a series of free trainings to help as many counselors as possible to spend their time where it's most valuable.
I hope to see you there.
Jordan (the Counselor),
If you liked this post, consider reading this next. I think you'll like it ;) It's about how to make 100k as a counselor.
Jordan Harris, Ph.D., LMFT-S, LPC-S received his Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Louisiana Monroe. He is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Arkansas, USA. In his clinical work he enjoys working with couples. He also runs a blog on deliberate practice for therapists and counselors at Jordanthecounselor.com